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West Africa Ebola outbreak could infect 20,000 people, WHO says

Published on Aug 29, 2014 4:34 AM

GENEVA/LAGOS (REUTERS) - The Ebola epidemic in West Africa could infect over 20,000 people and spread to more countries, the UN health agency said on Thursday, warning that an international effort costing almost half a billion dollars is needed to overcome the outbreak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced a US$490 million (S$611 million) strategic plan to contain the epidemic over the next nine months, saying it was based on a projection that the virus could spread to 10 further countries beyond the four now affected - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning of economic damage from the outbreak, Nigeria reported that a doctor indirectly linked to the Liberian-American who brought the disease to the country had died of Ebola in Port Harcourt, Africa's largest energy hub.

In Britain, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said an experimental Ebola vaccine is being fast-tracked into human studies and it plans to produce up to 10,000 doses for emergency deployment if the results are good.

Health agents check a passenger leaving Liberia at the Roberts International Airport near Monrovia on August 27, 2014. Ebola-hit nations met for crisis talks on August 28, 2014 as the death toll topped 1,500 and the World Health Organisation warned that the number of cases could exceed 20,000 before the outbreak is stemmed. -- PHOTO: AFP
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